Thursday, April 14, 2016

The One Where Crack Cocaine Narrates: Delicious Foods by James Hannahan

It took me a while to finally pick up this book. I knew it was going to be an emotionally difficult novel and it certainly met that expectation.

The story focuses on the fated lives of Darlene and her son Eddie. Darlene was an overachieving young black college student who fell in love with Nat, the boyfriend of a sorority sister, whose jealous outrage forced Darlene and Nat to abandon college and head off on their own. Nat gravitates to social justice activism but is killed by a gang of young racists, leaving Darlene to raise their son Eddie by herself. Darlene is gutted though, and soon turns to crack cocaine to lessen the pain. Thrown into the tailspin of addiction, Darlene's live grows immeasurably worse until a job offer at a Louisiana farm called Delicious Foods appears to offer some hope. Sadly, what awaits her there much worse than even than the pitiful life she was living.

Hannahan has written a really amazing novel, with such strong voices. The most interesting in Delicious Foods is that of Scotty, the personification of crack cocaine, whose chapters are filled with harsh attitude and cockiness you'd expect from a drug that overtakes the will of his addicts and controls their lives. Sadly this book took a while to make any shortlist for the major awards, although it eventually made the NYT's 100 Notable Books for 2015 and recently won the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction. 

Definitely a must read. 

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